Law for Change Incubation programmes have blossomed in recent years, supporting myriads of passionate young people to generate social impact innovations. It is encouraging to see growing interests towards certain social topics but some topics seem to remain remote to young change-makers. “Access to legal support” is one of the examples.

Age-related declines in capabilities may compromise older people’s ability to respond to health and safety hazards in home environment, causing increased risk of home injuries and threatening ageing-in-place. Recognising the growing demand for more personalised and preventive home support, ZeShan Foundation rolled out a new partnership with Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong

Clean Air Schools

Clean Air Network, Hong Kong

Environmental protection has been higher on public agenda in Hong Kong. It is exciting to see more information exchanges and community campaigns on pressing issues like greenhouse gases, wastes and habitat degradation. But what about air pollution?

Compared to the extreme hot days, odor nuisances or loss of endangered species, smog might seem to be a less worrying phenomenon. Air pollution, however, can be harming our health at different stages slowly yet severely. Air pollution deserves our attention.

Sharing the same mission that we need more conversations and actions on air pollution, ZeShan Foundation has collaborated with Clean Air Networks (“CAN”) in 2022 to carry out a 2-year school-based project on air monitoring and education. The pilot will support 8 primary and secondary schools in Sham Shui Po and Tuen Mun to gather real-time data on air quality via monitor installation. This is one of our first attempts to develop more community-led initiatives to address our environmental issues. With the available data and technical support from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the participating school management, teaching staff and students will be guided by CAN to develop and test out their adaptation measures to address air pollution in schools.

Sowing the seeds of raising awareness and knowledge, ZeShan hopes to see more behavioral changes around air pollution on a school level, and ultimately a cleaner and healthier learning environment for nurturing young minds.

Alexa Li
Assistant Program Manager
ZeShan Foundation

CAN school project artwork
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More Sustainable Source of Resilience and Recovery

In disaster management, the framework of participatory capacities and vulnerabilities analysis (namely “PCVA”) has been widely adopted for needs assessment over the past three decades in different countries.  This lens was also referenced by ZeShan team to understand not only the impact of the ongoing 5th wave of COVID pandemic on vulnerable people but also the systemic drivers behind such impact.   These often touch upon issues related to social inclusion, public governance, health equity, equal access to public resources and even policy issues.

PCVA is rooted in two proven social development methodologies.  First, of course, it stems from the traditional tool of CVA which enables frontline workers to design and plan relief projects, based on capacities and vulnerabilities of a community.  It recognizes vulnerable people have capacities to cope with adversity and can take actions to improve and rebuild their lives, before, during and/or after a disaster.  Second, PCVA has originated from the belief that empowering communities to participate in program design, planning and/or management would lead to increased ownership, accountability, and impact.  This is therefore the best way to bring about recovery or even changes.

This framework indeed aligns very much with ZeShan’s core approach of community empowerment in all program planning.   We believe, in every community, people have resources and capacities, but often unnoticed and then under-utilized.  In the process of disaster relief and recovery, it is therefore very important to identify these resources and capacities, and then empower people at all levels, including the so-called victims.  This process is always a more sustainable way to help people help themselves and others, and rebuild their own life and community.

In the past three months, through this lens, we discussed with peer foundations, project partners and people in Hong Kong.  We have identified the pressing needs of the most vulnerable ones as well as some of their precious but unnoticed resources and capacities.   With more than 10 new relief grants, ZeShan has focused on those marginalized or excluded under the existing policy frameworks and mainstream service provision or subsidy schemes.  These include grassroots families, ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers, small businesses and social enterprises struggling with unsold food stock and poor cashflows.   Designing each of our relief programs, we have tried hard to mobilize their own untapped labour and unused materials inside our hard-hit communities, with a view to preparing themselves better and stronger in the forthcoming process of economic recovery.

For a charitable foundation, we consider it not difficult to hand out materials to the needy.  We are therefore trying hard to be more forward looking.  At this current relief stage, whenever possible, a more empowering process was consciously designed and executed in our relief projects.  For we believe, this will be a more effective and sustainable way to help them rebuild their own communities at the next rehabilitation phase.

Our recent relief grants:

Initiated by Project
Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation Wu Wu Cheng” Community Mutual Support Initiative”
Fullness Social Enterprises Society Limited Love Our Neighbour
Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation
WeCare (Emergent Emotional Support for Vulnerable Elderly)
Health In Action Emergency Relief to Cleaners and Deprived Families Working and/or Living in Kwai Chung
Run Hong Kong Covid Relief – Health and Essential Services
Covid Relief – Psychological Support
Christian Action – Centre for Refugees COVID-19 Fifth Wave Emergency Distribution
United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service COVID-19 Care for Ethnic Minorities
The Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council Friendly Food Support Scheme
Hong Kong Unison 5th Wave (COVID-19) Ethnic Minority Emergency Relief Project

Irene SO
Executive Director
ZeShan Foundation

Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
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Volunteers distributing vouchers to beneficiaries
(“Wu Wu Cheng 2.0” Community Mutual Support Initiative/ Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation)
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Social Enterprise (Angelchild) staff packing food packs
(Fullness Social Enterprises Society)
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Staff distributing daily necessities to refugees and asylum seekers (Christian Action- Centre For Refugees)
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Fresh shop at RUN! Refugees and asylum seekers collecting fresh food, milk, cleaning supplies and toiletries every fortnight.
(RUN Hong Kong)
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Volunteers packing COVID relief packs
(Hong Kong Unison)
Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
With help of volunteers, the COVID-19 Care Package were delivered to different districts
(United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service)
Staff visited cleaners’ workplaces to talk about the proper usage of PPE correctly and the use of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits, etc. (Health In Action)
Staff visited cleaners’ workplaces to talk about the proper usage of PPE correctly and the use of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits, etc.
(Health In Action)
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Green Collar Incubation Hub

A Plastic Ocean Foundation, Hong Kong

In recent years, a growing number of recycling stations has been noticed in many urban communities, housing unwanted household items. Recyclables in the rural side, however, do not share the same story – valuable recyclables are often turned into mismanaged waste or even pollution menace, where recycling facilities or services are lacked or limited.

Hoping to change the narrative in the rural setting, ZeShan Foundation has partnered with A Plastic Ocean Foundation (“APO”) to develop a community-led waste management model in rural villages. In this one-year pilot project, two cohorts of passionate young adults will be equipped with professional training on recycling operation. Guided by APO’s recycling partners, the trained green collars will then take the lead on running a series of community recycling drives for people residing in villages located in the New Territories West. These range from collecting household plastic waste to processing them into quality recycling materials that can be repurposed for a second life.

Through mainstreaming the green practices in rural neighbourhood and cultivating a pool of green talents, ZeShan hopes to test and demonstrate this alternative model in strategically addressing the growing waste problem and rivitalising the recycling industry in Hong Kong.

Alexa Li
Assistant Program Manager
ZeShan Foundation

A Plastic Ocean Foundation's Education Team is introducing rural green facility and the natural habitats of Ha Tsuen to university students

APO’s Education Team is introducing rural green facility and the natural habitats of Ha Tsuen to university students

A Plastic Ocean Foundation's Education Team has been invited to offer a career talk on Green Opportunity and Employment for IVE (Shatin)

APO’s Education Team has been invited to offer a career talk on Green Opportunity and Employment for IVE (Shatin)

A Plastic Ocean Foundation's Education Team's mobile clean recycling station where our officer is introducing the concept of clean recycling to rural residents

APO’s Education Team’s mobile clean recycling station where our officer is introducing the concept of clean recycling to rural residents

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HandsOn YOUTH EMPOWERED

HandsOn, Hong Kong

Over the years, we have seen a rise of change-makers in different communities of Hong Kong. Yet, it is not easy to find the footsteps of secondary school students. Compared to their elder counterparts, teenagers are often considered lacking passion, awareness and know-hows around social issues. Such perception might also hamper the opportunities for the ones with the right hearts and minds to contribute.

Determined to dispel the myth, ZeShan Foundation is keen to cultivate an enabling environment for young people channeling their passion to positive impact, together with like-minded allies. Since 2021, ZeShan has supported HandsOn Hong Kong’s YOUTH EMPOWERED, a 10-month project focused on empowering Hong Kong youth to be active change-makers in serving the community. About 30 youth volunteering leaders representing a cross-section of Hong Kong secondary schools will be gifted opportunities to explore community needs and develop leadership skills. The volunteer leaders will also be missioned to develop and lead six new community service programmes, under the collaboration with HandsOn team and NGO partners.

By putting youth in the driver’s seat, ZeShan hopes to instil a sense of ownership and agency of young people, while at the same time, to initiate a shift in mindset in embracing youth capability, an indispensable element in building our community.

Alexa Li
Assistant Program Manager
ZeShan Foundation

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Training Session

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Website: 

HandsOn

Haiti Earthquake Relief

World Vision

Early in the morning of 14 August 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, causing hospitals, schools and homes to collapse, claiming over 2,200 lives and leaving communities in crisis. According to UNICEF, it has been estimated that about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been affected by the powerful earthquake.

The disaster caused damages in mainly the departments (or provinces) of Sud, Nippes and Grand’ Anse which were 125km away from the capital city of Haiti. There were severe damages to infrastructure, including shelters built from previous storms, buildings like hospitals, schools and churches, roads which were necessary for the community to carry out relief services and to recover. Several hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, while those still operating are overloaded, with a serious shortage of personnel and medical supplies to address growing health needs.

Social challenges emerged as gangs’ violent activities spread over the country urged the need to support on protection or security alongside the intervention like health, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), shelter, food security, children protection and education to the damaged area.

Before this earthquake, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere; about 65% of its population live under the national poverty line. Political instability has hindered the economic and social development.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 4.3 million people (44 percent of the population analyzed) were expected to be starving severely from September 2021 to February 2022. The worst situations were reported in Nord-Ouest, Centre (the Haut Plateau), Sud and Nippes, which are classified to be in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Dated 12 Nov 2021)

ZeShan therefore made a relief grant to support World Vision’s relief work to address the pressing needs of health and nutrition, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as shelter.

Deworming activities are on-going in schools

Deworming activities are on-going in schools  ©World Vision

children friendly space

Children friendly space.   ©World Vision

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Forget Famine Not

Oxfam, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres

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A deadly mix of conflict, COVID‐19, insect attack and persistent droughts have pushed more than 7 million people across six countries in East Africa to the very edge of starvation. According to UN reports, approximately 108,000 people there were under catastrophic famine‐conditions, a phase marked by critical acute malnutrition, starvation, destitution and death. This phase is understood in the humanitarian sector as the highest and most urgent Integrated Food Insecurity Phase Classification (IPC) of level 5. Additionally, almost 7.8 million people are exposed to emergency phase (IPC4), and if things worsen are one step away from famine. As many as 26 million are classified at “crisis level” (IPC3), where action is needed now to stop them sliding into emergency.

The region has endured substantial and widespread breeding of desert locusts since late 2019, resulting in loss of pasture and crops. Added to this, from June to December 2020, rising conflicts has exacerbated the food insecurity situation in the region. The Climate Prediction and Application Centre and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have both made predictions of dry conditions and worsening food insecurity situation in 2021. Coupled with economic impact of COVID‐19, lockdowns continue to destroy livelihoods and push millions into desperation.

This challenging period could erode human and economic development gains that have been made towards the global Sustainable Development Goals across the region. The rising food insecurity also increases the risks faced by women and girls, including gender‐based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse.

In view of these pressing emergency needs, ZeShan Foundation made in the summer of 2021 three major emergency grants to support the ongoing famine-related relief operations in South Sudan and Ethiopia by three INGOs, namely Oxfam, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres.  The relief efforts include provision of food relief, clean water and sanitation, emergency healthcare and protection of vulnerable groups, especially children and women.

Hundreds of people in Shire’s University IDP site live in an unfinished building, where they sleep, cook and eat. Many don’t have mattresses or blankets. ©Claudia Blume/MSF

Hundreds of people in Shire’s University IDP site live in an unfinished building, where they sleep, cook and eat. Many don’t have mattresses or blankets. ©Claudia Blume/MSF

It is one of the camp sites in Tigray region. Oxfam is providing life-saving aids, including food, water and hygiene kits to displaced people in Tigray since Jan 2021. ©Oxfam

It is one of the camp sites in Tigray region. Oxfam is providing life-saving aids, including food, water and hygiene kits to displaced people in Tigray since Jan 2021. ©Oxfam

Caregivers preparing nutritious food. ©World Vision

Caregivers preparing nutritious food. ©World Vision

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China Social Work Research Centre

Peking University and Polytechnic University

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Since 2007, Peking University has been rolling out its social work program under its Department of Sociology, in a joint effort and strategic partnership with the Department of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The primary purposes of the joint program are to foster the integration of social work theory and practice as a way to indigenize and professionalize social work in China, as well as provide training to enhance the problem-solving capacity of social workers towards achieving social development.

The two institutes co-founded the PekingU-Hong Kong PolyU China Social Work Research Centre. The Centre is devoted to the development and indigenization of social work theory and practice in China, aiming to develop a pipeline for leading scholars who are committed to the social change of China in the long term. To that end, strengthening the teaching capacity both undergraduate and graduate programs in social work is an integral part of the Center’s mission.

In 2012, ZeShan Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation jointly committed RMB20 million to establish a dedicated development fund. The fund will be critical to supporting the sustained growth of the Centre, so that it may develop into a leading institution for teaching and research in social work development, a think tank for social policy, and an international hub linking with social workers and social policy makers from mainland China, Hong Kong and the international community. The fund provides seed funding for research and program capacity building and enable PKU and the Center to leverage for external funding from the government and private sector.

In 2013, to commemorate the partnership, the compound of the Centre was renamed Si Shan Yuan (思善苑), taken from the names of the two sister foundations. During the unveiling ceremony on July 20, Prof. Zhou Qifeng, President of Peking University, presented Dr. Thomas Chen with the Outstanding Educational Contribution Award in recognition of his unwavering support for education in China.

In January 2014, a 4-day intensive training on social work curriculum development and capacity building was organized for about 100 Master of Social Work (MSW) instructors from various universities across China. Co-organized by Centre, the Social Work Teaching Guidance Committee under the Ministry of Education, and the China Association for Social Work Education, the training program attracted both local and international scholars and senior social work practitioners. Leading pracademics from the University of Chicago and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University participated as trainers in the workshop.

Peking University (PKU) is considered a cradle for higher education in modern China. It has been at the forefront in the teaching and research of humanities, social sciences and liberal arts education. Throughout its history, the university has distinguished itself in terms of intellectual freedom and leadership in social sciences and has produced and hosted man prominent Chinese thought leaders.

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